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Australia Investigates Suspected Terrorist Arrested in India - 2001-12-06

The Australian government says a man arrested in India last month claims to have planned terrorist attacks against Australia. Authorities suspect the man is linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

Police in Australia and India are investigating a man who confessed to have planned terrorist attacks in a number of countries, including Australia. Australian officials said no specific threat has been made but the suspect's claims are being taken seriously.

The man was arrested last month in the Indian city of Bombay. Officials said the man had received pilot training in Australia in 1997 and 1998, but he had not been back in the country since December 1998.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the suspect admitted to planning suicide raids in Australia, Britain and India similar to the September 11 attacks in the United States, where terrorists hijacked airplanes and crashed them into buildings. "I can't give you much more detail than you publicly have but that he has confessed to be planning a suicide attack," he said. "He has done pilot training apparently in Australia and in Britain so presumably the type of suicide attack he was contemplating was using aircraft. But, whether, of course, he would have ever gone ahead with it, one doesn't know. But the Indian authorities are taking it seriously."

Officials refused to disclose the name of the suspect or where he is from, but they say he is not an Australian citizen.

Authorities in India say information from the suspect revealed ties with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.

Australia, which has contributed troops and military hardware to the U.S.-led war on terrorism, has been on a heightened state of security alert since September 11.